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A Comcast vehicle. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

Comcast announced today its largest-ever eligibility expansion for Internet Essentials, the cable giant's program that subsidizes basic broadband service and low-cost computers to help increase adoption for low-income households in the cities Comcast serves.

Why it matters: Households living in cities with the highest poverty rates are up to 10 times more likely than those in higher earning communities to not have access to wireline broadband internet service at home.

According to 2017 census data, rich communities like Palo Alto, California, and Bethesda, Maryland, have only 6% of households without wireline broadband subscriptions. But in cities with higher poverty rates like Trenton, New Jersey, and Flint, Michigan, up to 60% of households do not have wired broadband service to their home.

The big picture: Many low-income households rely on smartphones to access the internet, often because it's cheaper than buying the gear and a computer needed for a home connection.

  • Comcast executive David Cohen said on a call with reporters that a smartphone is not adequate for students trying to complete homework or adults trying to create a resume and apply for jobs.

Details: The program, which began 8 years ago with the merger of Comcast and NBCUniversal, will now be open to seniors and people with disabilities. To date, the program has connected more than 8 million low-income individuals from 2 million households, the company says.

Yes, but: The Internet Essentials service, which costs $10 a month, provides download speeds of 15 megabits per second, which is slower than the FCC's benchmark for broadband (25 megabits per second). Cohen argued that speed is "more than sufficient" for most household needs, and he pointed out Comcast has raised the speeds 4 times over the past 8 years.

Go deeper

Andrew Cuomo refuses to resign: "I never touched anyone inappropriately"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday that he will not resign from his post, despite an independent investigation finding that he sexually harassed multiple women in violation of federal and state law.

Why it matters: Cuomo had previously urged those calling for his resignation — including nearly every prominent New York Democrat — to wait for the results of the investigation overseen by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The findings were damning, but Cuomo said he is not going anywhere.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
3 hours ago - Science

Boeing is getting its do-over

Boeing's Starliner awaits its launch atop an Atlas V rocket. Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Boeing is set to launch a redo of an uncrewed test of its Starliner spacecraft — designed to one day carry astronauts — to the International Space Station this week.

Why it matters: This is a high-stakes test for Boeing, which failed to get its Starliner to the station during its first uncrewed test flight in December 2019.

4 hours ago - Health

New York City to require vaccination proof for indoor activities

New York City will require proof of vaccination to participate in indoor activities, including visiting gyms and restaurants, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The mandate is the first of its kind for a major U.S. city, according to de Blasio. France and Italy announced similar requirements last month.